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CBD Oil: Uses Case, Benefits, Side Effect & More

Kate Barrington

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Victor Nguyen, PharmD.

CBD oil

When you hear the term CBD you probably think of marijuana. While CBD is a chemical aspect determined in marijuana, it doesn’t get you high. In fact, cannabidiol has the cap potential to offer quite a few enormous significant health benefits[1] starting from advanced sleep to ache comfort. 

When using CBD products, it’s miles vital to observe medical advice. The records supplied in this article are supposed that will help you higher recognize what CBD is and what medical proof has to mention approximately its advantages. 

In this article, we’ll explore the subject of CBD oil to learn what it is, how it works, and what benefits CBD products may provide. We’ll also provide some helpful tips to follow if you’re ready to try CBD oils for yourself. 

What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol or CBD[2]  is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis. The name cannabis generally refers to the following three plants:

  • Cannabis sativa
  • Cannabis indica
  • Cannabis ruderalis

The cannabis plant is also known as the hemp plant, and different parts of the plant are used for different purposes. Hemp seed is rich in essential fatty acids – particularly omega-3s and omega-6s – as well as protein, vitamin E, and various minerals. The hemp oil extracted from hemp seed has been used to treat a variety of skin conditions including atopic dermatitis[3]

The leaves, stalks, and flowers of the cannabis or hemp plant can be harvested to make marijuana, but the natural oils they contain can also be extracted to create CBD oil. Hemp-derived CBD differs from marijuana by its lower levels of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the cannabinoid known for its psychoactive and intoxicating properties. 

Most CBD oils are described as either “full-spectrum” or “broad spectrum.” Broad-spectrum CBD has the THC removed while full-spectrum CBD does not. When it comes to the health benefits of CBD products, research suggests whole-plant cannabis extract may surpass CBD isolates. The heightened benefit of CBD in the presence of other cannabinoids and terpenes is known as the entourage effect[4]

What Does CBD Oil Do? Does It Work – And If So, How?

The Endocannabinoid System

Though the effects of cannabidiol CBD are still being studied, researchers have attributed its benefits to CBD’s relationship with the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system or ECS[5] is a “master regulator” in the body. It plays a role in regulating important bodily functions ranging from appetite and metabolism to memory, cellular communication, and immune response. It is also a major contributor to maintaining homeostasis in the body. 

The ECS is a complex cell signaling system that was first identified during the 1990s and it involves three primary components:

  • Endocannabinoids
  • Receptors
  • Enzymes

Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring cannabinoids produced in the brain which play a role in supporting healthy bodily function. These endocannabinoids bind to endocannabinoid receptors to signal the ECS when it needs to kick in to address a problem.  The predominant endocannabinoid receptors[6] in the body are CB1 and CB2. 

Endocannabinoids are capable of binding to either receptor and the resulting effects vary depending on where in the body the receptor is located and the endocannabinoid to which it binds. When endocannabinoids have fulfilled their function, enzymes jump in to break them down. The two primary enzymes that play this role are fatty acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol acid lipase.


The key to understanding the role of the endocannabinoid system in the body lies in understanding the concept of biological “homeostasis.” The term homeostasis refers to the body’s ability to regulate its internal environment to restore stability in response to fluctuations caused by internal or external factors. Its role as a regulator of key bodily functions makes the endocannabinoid system integral to homeostasis. 

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Homeostasis is maintained through a variety of mechanisms[7], all of which have at least three components which interact with each other:

  • A receptor that detects changes in the internal or external environment
  • A control center that receives information from receptors and initiates a response
  • An organ or tissue that receives the information and enacts the necessary change to restore homeostasis

Both THC and CBD engage with the endocannabinoid device via way of means of binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors. Furthermore, CBD promotes 2-AG synthesis. 2-AG is an endocannabinoid that binds to and stimulates the hobby of the CB receptors. CBD moreover inhibits FAAH, which ends up in extended anandamide levels. Anandamide turn-ons CB1, CB2, and TRPV1 receptors[8].

Besides, CBD has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties — that are partially mediated by CBD’s actions on TRPV1, mitochondria, and PPARγ. This receptor is thought to play at the frame and thoughts in ache remedy and inflammation. 

By interacting with TRPV-1 and stimulating boost in each anandamide and 2-AG,  CBD mediate promotes wholesome endocannabinoid activity. And because the endocannabinoid system is directly engaged in such a lot of homeostasis processes. By triggering those reactions, CBD can also additionally assist provide your body the boost it needs to restore homeostasis and to preserve functioning properly.

Are There Proven Benefits to Using CBD Oil?

Though the popularity of CBD oil has risen dramatically recently, scientists have been studying its effects for years. The strongest scientific evidence[9] supporting the effectiveness of CBD is in treating childhood epilepsy syndromes like Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) and Dravet Syndrome. CBD oil has also been studied to determine its effectiveness in treatments used to relieve anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and inflammation.

Is CBD Worth Trying for Pain Management?

Cannabis has been used as a treatment for pain[10] for centuries. It is only somewhat recently, however, that scientists have discovered that cannabinoids (including CBD) are responsible for providing those pain-relieving benefits. CBD is supposed to be a good analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, and anxiolytic activity. Though it may not direct alignment with CB1 or CB2 receptors directly, it acts as a modulator[11]and regulates ache by affecting the activity of different objectives withinside the body. 

In one rat study[12], researchers discovered that CBD injections decreased ache reaction to surgical incision and some others discovered[13] that oral CBD remedy drastically decreased sciatic nerve ache and inflammation. In human studies, a combination of CBD and THC in the form of an oral spray called Sativex has been found to treat pain related to several conditions including rheumatoid arthritis[14] and multiple sclerosis[15]A 2018 study of cannabidiol use[16] revealed that over 60% of CBD users use it to treat a medical condition, particularly pain. Though several studies have shown a positive correlation between CBD and pain relief, more research is required to determine its effects on different types of pain. Some scientists suggest mild pain relief related to CBD treatments may have more to do with its anti-inflammatory benefits than with any specific impact on pain. Some studies show stronger analgesic effects when CBD and THC are taken together.

Can CBD Help Anxiety?

The physical benefits of CBD are fairly well studied, but its efficacy as a treatment for mental disorders is less proven. When it comes to the potential benefits of CBD for anxiety relief, researchers again cite its effects on the endocannabinoid system.  Research shows[17] that CBD has a broad pharmacological profile and interacts with several of the receptors known to regulate fear and anxiety-related behaviors. Some research suggests CBD also acts on the brain’s receptors for serotonin[18], the neurotransmitter linked to mood.

There are numerous studies regarding the benefits of marijuana for anxiety, but fewer specifically related to CBD. In the study of CBD use[19] mentioned above, the second most common reason users cited for taking CBD (after pain) was for anxiety relief. Nearly 36% of respondents claimed CBD dealt with their condition “thoroughly through itself.”

In a 2019 review[20], researchers suggest the results of numerous mouse studies combined with developments in medical research support the use of CBD for anxiety and depression. This hypothesis is further supported by the results of a Brazilian study[21] in which a 300mg dose of CBD significantly reduced public speaking anxiety in adult males. CBD oil has also been used to treat anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder.[22] 
Again, several studies have found the benefits of CBD to be heightened when combined with THC. For CBD on its own, however, a Ph.D. research consultant[23] from the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute (ADAI) says, “[CBD] does appear to be psychotropic insofar as it appears to have pharmacological benefits with regard to anxiety, schizophrenia, addiction, and depression.”

Can Alleviate Cancer-Related Symptoms?

According to the National Cancer Institute[24], an estimated 1.8 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2020 and over 600,000 people will die from the disease. Breast cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer are the top three most common cancers. Prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers account for over 40% of all cancers diagnosed in men while breast, lung, and colorectal cancers account for 50% of all new cases in women. 

Cancer is a notoriously difficult disease to treat and new therapies are constantly being developed. Unfortunately, some of the most effective cancer treatments[25] are also the most toxic and invasive. Surgery may be required to remove tumors while chemotherapy or radiation is used to kill cancer cells. The side effects of these treatments can be just as difficult as the symptoms of cancer itself. Many cancer patients experience nausea, fatigue, swell, pain, and sleep problems. 

In addition to its capacity advantages for ache relief, CBD has additionally been proven to assist lessen chemotherapy-brought nausea and vomiting.[26] In one study[27], a THC and CBD mouth spray decreased chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting higher than the preferred remedy alone. 

Some research suggests CBD may have anticancer properties as well. In one study,[28] concentrated CBD resulted in cell death in human breast cancer cells. In another,[29] CBD inhibited the spread of aggressive breast cancer cells in mice.

Several Other Potential Benefits


Insomnia[30] – a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty with sleep quality, initiating, or maintaining sleep – affects up to one-third of the American population. Sedative drugs can help with insomnia, but they come with a high risk of dependence and daytime sleepiness. Numerous studies have tested the effects of whole-plant cannabis and isolated CBD for insomnia treatment.

In one study,[31] tetrahydrocannabinol was shown to have short-term sleep benefit but long-term use was associated with habituation and a less pronounced circadian rhythm. This may eventually lead to issues with daytime sleepiness, delayed sleep onset latency, and negative mood and memory effects. CBD on its own, however, yielded different results. While low-dose CBD was found to have stimulating effects, medium- and high-dose CBD was setting and increased the percentage of total sleep.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists are still working to better understand the effects of CBD on the endocannabinoid system, but some researchers believe CBD’s ability to act on the ECS and other signaling systems in the brain may provide benefits for patients with neurological disorders.

In addition to research supporting the possible benefits of CBD for epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, several studies have shown CBD may improve the quality of life[32] for people with Parkinson’s disease and that it may decrease inflammation and slow neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s[33] patients. In a long-term mouse study,[34] CBD was found to help prevent cognitive decline in mice genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease.

Seizure Reduction

One of the most thoroughly tested benefits of CBD is for the treatment of seizure disorders like epilepsy, especially in children. A 2019 study[35] conducted by the UNC School of Medicine showed the benefits of CBD for Angelman syndrome, a rare neurodevelopmental condition associated with seizures and abnormal brain rhythms. Other studies have shown CBD to be effective in reducing seizures[36] even in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

Substance Abuse/Addiction

Marijuana is known for its THC content and the associated psychoactive properties. Unfortunately, people who use marijuana frequently are prone to marijuana use disorder[37] which, in some cases, can take the form of addiction. Whereas THC has the potential to develop into an addiction, CBD has been shown to help treat addiction.

In one rat study,[38] CBD became proven to lessen morphine dependence and heroin-looking for behavior. Similar results are hypothesized in humans. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina have recently received funding for a study to determine whether CBD can help fight cravings in people addicted to opioids.[39]

Additionally, a team of researchers at the University of California, San Diego, is currently investigating the potential effects of CBD as a treatment for alcohol use disorder[40] (AUD).

Are There Any Side Effects?

Though CBD doesn’t get you high like THC, it may cause adverse effects in some people. The most commonly noted side effects[41] of CBD include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight changes

CBD also has the potential to interact with certain medications due to the way the body metabolizes certain substances. CBD may inhibit the function of enzymes that change the way your body processes the CBD – the opposite can be true as well. 
Though there are limited studies to identify specific drug interactions, the rule of thumb to follow is to avoid CBD if any medication you’re taking has a grapefruit warning. The FDA has identified[42] over 85 drugs that interact with grapefruit, leading to a higher concentration of the medication in the bloodstream. This is because chemicals in grapefruit inhibit certain enzymes that help metabolize medications in a similar way to CBD.

Is CBD Oil Legal?

CBD products have become widely available throughout the country, so you may be wondering if CBD oil is legal. The answer to this question is a little complicated because it depends on the use for which CBD oils are marketed and sold. Generally speaking, however, CBD products are no longer considered controlled substances[43] under federal law.

The 2018 Farm Bill (the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) changed the way hemp products are produced and marketed. Under this act, hemp-derived CBD products are legal as long as the Δ9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content is under 0.3% on a dry weight basis.

Advice for Someone Who Wants to Try CBD

If you’re interested in trying CBD, it’s important to start by doing some research about cannabidiol. CBD is one of many active compounds in the cannabis plant and it is non-psychoactive, so it won’t get you high. It does, however, come with some risk for side effects, so be sure to talk to your doctor and follow medical advice if you start taking it.

Check your state’s laws[44] about CBD oil to make sure it is legal to purchase and do some research into local retailers of cannabidiol products to find a reputable company. Choose a company that provides specific details about where the hemp was grown and make sure the products are lab tested, ideally by a third party. 

When using CBD, always start with a low dose and follow the dosing instructions recommended by the manufacturer. Different CBD products have different concentrations of CBD, so you may want to start with a low concentration to see how it affects you before moving up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

It depends. Pure CBD may not cause a false-positive drug test result, but some CBD products contain enough THC concentrations to cause a positive result.

How Do I Choose a CBD oil?

Make sure CBD oil is legal in your state then look for a company that uses high-quality hemp. Check the CBD content of the product and ask for lab analysis if the company doesn’t offer one automatically.

How is Cannabidiol Different from Marijuana?

Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid found in cannabis or hemp, the same plant from which marijuana is derived. The primary difference is CBD doesn’t have psychoactive effects whereas the tetrahydrocannabinol in marijuana does.

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Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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Kate Barrington

Medically reviewed by:

Victor Nguyen

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

Medically reviewed by:

Victor Nguyen

Harvard Health Publishing

Database from Health Information and Medical Information

Harvard Medical School
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Database From Cleveland Clinic Foundation

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Database From U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Governmental Authority
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Database from World Health Organization

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Neurology Journals

American Academy of Neurology Journals

American Academy of Neurology
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United Nations Global Compact
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Database From National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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Database from U.S. National Library of Medicine

U.S. Federal Government
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Database From Department of Health and Human Services

Governmental Authority
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PubMed Central

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
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